Original Soundtrack: Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)

Yeah, kind of a guilty pleasure here, but as soundtracks go, it's a good bit of fun.

I haven't seen the movie in decades, but my impression is that it was pretty bad, a rock band fable (with aspects of the plot later duplicated in Velvet Goldmine) featuring one of the least convincing cinematic bands you can imagine (Tom Berenger being particularly out of his element). But the music was actually pretty great. To create the sound of a New Jersey bar band, they brought in John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band.  Now, to say they sound like a poor man's Bruce Springsteen is underplaying how much they sound like Springsteen; at the same time, it doesn't do justice to the music.  Yeah, the songs sound largely like outtakes from The River -- but pretty authentic outtakes.

The album is rather slight -- setting aside a by-the-numbers cover of "Runaround Sue" and a couple songs not featuring Cafferty, there's not a lot of running time here.  But there are a handful of surprisingly solid tunes, making this something I still pull out and play now and then.

The hit single was "On The Dark Side," and, yeah, it's a 3-chord pop tune with a vibe that apes Springsteen as well as a pre-Mellencamp John Cougar, but what a great pop tune.  I can't really say it's a guilty pleasure; it's just flat-out great.  "Wild Summer Nights" is the other upbeat winner, something you'd definitely feel perfectly fine pumping your fist in the air to if they played it at the neighborhood bar.  On the quieter side, you've got "Tender Years," a long lost Springsteen ballad, sax and all (and, again, not in a "hey, they're ripping off Springsteen" way, but in a "wait, this isn't Springsteen?" way); "Boardwalk Angel" is another nice ballad cut from the same cloth.  There are also a few relatively generic tunes that sound like oldies covers you'd expect to hear played in a smoky New Jersey bar (complete with crowd noise), perfectly fine but not memorable.

The album closes with "Season in Hell," which, if I recall the film, was supposed to represent the fictitious band's shelved second album, when they drop the simplistic bar band tunes and move into something deep and profound, a concept album based on the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud that sounds like Jim Morrison trying to recreate Brian Wilson's lost Smile tapes.  And the song actually manages to pull off the conceit (well, it sounds more like Springsteen writing another song for Patti Smith, but it's a respectable effort).

Here's Cafferty's video for "On The Dark Side":
And here's "Tender Years" from the movie: